Chalking up a 7-baller for our first Labs weekender

Author: Andy Hartwell

For the last couple of years, the Substrakt team have hung around in the studio after working hours on a Tuesday to work on projects; side projects, personal projects, experiments… you get the gist. Having spent a fair amount of Tuesday evenings last year working on our own website and failing to actually deliver any other projects we felt a rethink was required. A few hours after a hard day on client work doesn’t really cut it if we want to smash out some awesome.

The conclusion was to take a weekend out (including a Friday) every 2 or 3 months to focus and deliver some sort of digital goodness within 3 days. This approach, that we call ‘labs’, allows us to hone our skills, explore new design/development techniques, do some team bonding and eat serious amounts of take-away food.

The results from our first session (mid April) were better than we’d hoped, and we ended up working on 4 different projects. The first of these that we’re introducing is an iPhone app called Chalk. This app idea has been knocking around the studio since we had a pool table in our old office, and we felt a simple, clear and well designed scoring app would go down well.


Design and UI-wise, we wanted to create something which echoed the billiard halls of old and felt appropriate in its setting. Unashamedly skeuomorphic in appearance, this gives the app a little character, and separates it from being a joyless utility. Bring on the wood and chalk boards!

The app was built in record time by Mark, using Titanium’s Alloy platform and building a supporting API in Django.

Check out the website and download the app. (All proceeds go towards our Christmas party!)

Let us know what else you think could be added to improve the app, we already have tournaments with multiple players in the pipeline.